One of my favourite films of all time is Julie and Julia. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s two stories intertwined. One story is about the early years of Julia Child’s cooking career set in the 1950’s played by Meryl Streep and the other is about Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, a modern-day, NYC girl, in a depressing job, who decides to cook every recipe in Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.
Yesterday, I too stepped into Julia Child’s cook book. I, however, had my eyes on just one prize….Boeuf Bourguignon!
So with a list of ingredients to buy I set off early. First stop was my butcher, I explained to him that I was making Boeuf Bourguignon, not just any Boeuf Bourguignon but Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and that I needed my pieces of beef cut perfectly to portion, I then watched him closely as he cut the meat into exactly 2 inch cubes for me. He found a very nice 6oz chunk of bacon and trimmed off the rind as the two parts will be used separately. Oh how I love a good old-fashioned butcher who appreciates how important it is for things to be done just right and only sells top quality, free range /organic meat…..as it should be. Thanks Rob!
Next stop was the wine shop. I explained again what I was making and asked for a recommendation. I was informed that a Domaine Les Fines Graves, 2010, Moulin-a-Ventz would be perfect. Oh, how I love an independent wine shop with staff who know exactly what wine will be perfect for your needs…..as it should be. Thanks Tom.
I happily skipped off, (yes, I really did skip), to my next destination…..the green grocer.
I actually had to head to four different grocers until I found one with the perfect tiny little baby onions and tiny little baby mushrooms. My greengrocer hand-picked every onion and mushroom. I had explained the importance of uniformity and that I was making a very special dish….I also picked up some fresh Bay Leaf, Parsley and Thyme. Oh, how I love a local greengrocer who takes pride in selling only the best, fresh, yummy produce…..as it should be. Thanks Maureen.
So with loot in hand and a quick sidestep for some beer for Marc, a 1/2 bottle of bubbly for me and an even quicker whizz round Marks and Spencer for some odd bits and bobs, I headed home to get cracking on with this masterpiece.
Well….first thing I needed to do when I returned home was to pat the meat dry, between paper towels and then set about to peeling 24 teeny, tiny, itty-bitty, little baby onions. This took time, considerable time, painstaking, fiddly time…..but it was worth it. Sweet little babies all undressed and waiting to be tossed in bubbling butter and perfectly browned. I washed and dried the mushrooms then sautéed those in a heart stopping amount of butter also.
To cut a long story short….I browned the beef in a cracking hot pan, I simmered and sautéed the bacon after chopping it into 1/2 inch lardons. I floured and I stirred, I soaked the meat in the wine, added stock and herbs and chopped vegetables. I strained and stirred and carefully basted my way through the next 3 hours…..and finally when the meat fell apart with a fork and the sauce had thickened, my Julia Child Boeuf Bourguignon was ready to eat. I served it with some mashed potatoes that contained lots and lots of butter.
My husband and guests were all well satisfied. I received many words of praise and more than a few mmmmm’s and ahhhhh’s that made the whole process totally worth the time and effort.
Usually I’m a kind of “that’s about the right amount” type of cook. An adjustment here, and extra pinch there….leave this out and put that in. But for Julie and Julia both….it was required of me to show the utmost respect by following the recipe exactly….and I’m so glad I did, because the recipe as written is perfect, the result even more perfect.
Thanks to Julie and Julia for introducing me to the perfect Boeuf Bourguignon and inspiring me to cook it……as it should be.